Gordon Brown

There is a headline on MSN. It says Brown influence on England continues.  I thought it was Gordon Brown. It wasn’t. It was some rugby player. Rugby is of no interest to me.

But has Gordon Brown left anything behind?

What always seems to be overlooked with Gordon Brown is that he is an extremely decent man. His father was I think a minister of the Presbyterian church & he did & does care for such things as poverty in the Third World. He was hard working & conscientious. One can understand why he wanted to usurp Tony Blair as Prime Minister. But what Brown didn’t understand is that these days there is an element of show business about politics, especially high politics. Blair & Cameron understand this. The problem with both of them is that they are all image.

Blair blew it, not least because he became so reviled because of his various wars. Brown in fact disagreed with the Iraq war but didn’t resign because he thought that if he did it would end his chances of ever becoming Prime Minister which indeed it would have done. That is not to his credit. It certainly does show a certain megalomania.

Brown masterminded the financial crisis, the crisis of capitalism which engulfed the World. What he did was to pour money into banks which had over lent & speculated with money that wasn’t theirs. There were some predictions that the crisis was going to be as bad as that in the 30s. In the event it doesn’t seem to have been that bad. Brown in a remark that was a giveaway said he was saving the World. In a sense he was. I mean, can anyone seriously claim that either Blair or Cameron or indeed Osborne – the real ruler of the country – chancellors of the exchequer often, possibly usually, are – the real rulers of the country – would have averted the crisis at all.

Gordon Brown decided against an election soon after he became Prime Minister in 2007 because it looked as though he might not win it. He should have taken the chance. He probably would have won. But he was afraid of being the shortest serving Prime Minister of modern times & he realised that he would be excoriated forever by the labour movement for throwing power away in the same way as Ramsay McDonald was for going into coalition with the other 2 parties & forming a government of national unity. In fact it would, from Labour’s point of view at any rate, have been a good election to lose.  Then it would have befallen upon the new Government to take the measures necessary. In modern politics, the incumbent government tends to take the blame for everything. In this case, the financial crisis, the crisis which has enveloped the globe, the World in which more or less the same capitalist system prevails everywhere, the roots of the present crisis can be seen to emanate from the Reagan Thatcher era when banks were deregulated. Brown took the blame for it because the crisis occurred when Brown was the Prime Minister.

When Chancellor of the Exchequer, he sold off the country’s gold reserves, a decision that seemed to make no sense at the time but in the grand scheme of things probably doesn’t matter.  Indeed much of what he did, which at the time was thought to be good, turned out to be bad. He put all his faith in the free market, in capitalism, while at the same time, calling himself a socialist. It is easy to have hindsight. But with hindsight, it is easy to see that if he had re-regulated the banks, it would have prevented much. He was known as prudence Brown but in fact he was far from prudent. He seemed to believe that a period of high growth could continue indefinitely;  something which in the history of capitalism never has occurred.

Gordon Brown will probably be not much more than a footnote in history, if that is, history continues to be practised & taught. He was essentially a good man with human weaknesses which mattered.

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